New survey launched into Group B streptococcus infection in babies

April 2, 2014

Researchers have launched a national study to see how common the potentially fatal bacterial infection Group B streptococcus is in UK and Irish babies.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a that can cause serious infections. It is the most important cause of in and of in the first three months of life.

Experts at St George's, University of London, in collaboration with the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and Public Health England will coordinate the study across UK and Ireland which will run for a 13-month period from April 1.

While most infected can be treated successfully and will make a full recovery, approximately 10% of babies with GBS disease will die and neurodisability occurs in up to 50% of survivors of GBS meningitis.

Antibiotics given intravenously to the mother during labour may prevent GBS disease in the first week; national guidelines introduced in 2003 and updated in 2012 currently recommend this for women with certain risk factors.

Currently there is no strategy to prevent disease which happens after the first week of life. A vaccine against GBS has been developed and is currently being tested in pregnant women.

The aim of the surveillance study, funded by a grant from the Meningitis Now charity, is to establish the number of cases of GBS in babies aged less than three months of age over a 13 month period.

Comparison with the last national surveillance for GBS, which was 13 years ago, will indicate whether current prevention strategies including the recently updated guidelines have had an impact on the number of cases.

Knowledge of the current situation will also be important for the implementation of a GBS vaccine programme.

Professor Paul Heath, who is leading the study, said: "GBS remains a major health burden. Since our last study 13 years ago around 8,000 babies are likely to have had this infection. Prevention is vital. A promising vaccine is on the horizon which makes this new study even more important."

Clinicians and microbiologists are asked to report cases from 1April 2014 onwards. Clinicians in the UK and Republic of Ireland will be asked to report cases via the BPSU orange card system. Microbiologists and laboratory staff will be requested to notify invasive GBS cases, and submit the isolates, to their national reference laboratory (e.g. PHE).

Clinicians in the Republic of Ireland will also report cases to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) as invasive GBS is a notifiable disease in Ireland. Clinicians in Northern Ireland will also report cases to the Public Health Agency.

Explore further: Group B streptococcal meningitis has long-term effects on children's developmental outcomes

Related Stories

More accurate diagnostic test may reduce deaths

June 26, 2012

A more accurate, faster diagnostic test for Group B Streptococcal infection in babies has been reported in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. The new test could allow better treatment and management of the disease and reduce ...

Researchers say more rapid test for Group B strep successful

March 8, 2013

A more rapid laboratory test for pregnant women to detect potentially deadly Group B strep (GBS) has been successful at identifying GBS colonization in six and a half hours, according to the results of a study from The University ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.